Most government organisations’ annual reports and accounts are laid and published as House of Commons (HC) or unnumbered Act Papers. In addition, a very few are Command Papers.
The Journal Office sets the laying requirements for these parliamentary papers. Contact the office at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 020 7219 3361. HM Treasury also provides information for preparers of annual reports and accounts on OneFinance.
Annual report and accounts should be laid in print-ready PDF via email from the appropriate department’s parliamentary team. In addition, Parliament may also require a 20pt Arial (large print) version at laying.
Producing, laying and publishing reports
Most production and publishing information for parliamentary papers applies equally to annual reports and accounts. However, these papers have additional clearance procedures, and organisations may need to check with their parent department, and if a central government department, with HM Treasury to ensure that the correct processes are followed.
You must factor in these additional clearance procedures when planning your annual reports and accounts. The figure below gives an overview of the key areas that organisations need to consider in preparation for laying and publishing their report.
Government organisations have their own detailed project plans to produce the report and accounts – this summary highlights some of the steps involved. You may need to consider these:
- Book in your annual report and accounts with HH Global – see Command and House Papers supplier services for more information.
- Central departments should follow guidance from HM Treasury
- Ensure any standing templates are updated to reflect current guidance. Do not assume that previous years’ templates are correct
- Plan for a 20pt Arial (large print) version for parliamentary users to be ready when the standard version is laid, unless advised otherwise by the relevant parliamentary clerk’s team.
- Identify and plan the National Audit Office input* (see NAO links below)
- Executive agencies and other arms-length bodies should prepare annual reports and accounts in accordance with their governing documents, relevant legislation and directions given by parent departments
- Executive agencies and other arms-length bodies should confirm with their parent department the timelines for approval by the permanent secretary and relevant minsters
- Obtain the necessary spending controls exemption to produce the report and accounts
- Departments must obtain and include an HC number from HM Treasury. In some cases parent departments can obtain HC numbers for other organisations. Otherwise obtain numbers directly from the Journal Office. A very few annual reports and accounts are Command Papers, obtain Command Paper numbers from The National Archives at email@example.com
- Check that the presentation line in the document is correct. If the report and accounts is an HC or Act Paper ensure that it is laid under the correct piece of legislation, consult with legal advisors if there is any doubt. You must ensure that the laying authority is correct
- Obtain the necessary publication furniture including an ISBN from HH Global and submit the completed cover, title page and title verso to the Journal Office for approval
- Liaise with external auditors to audit accounts. Bear in mind that more than one audit may take place
- Proofread for typographical errors and to ensure that the publication furniture has been included before sending the document to the printers or creating a print-ready PDF
- Obtain final approval from relevant organisations (such as external auditors and parent department) to publish
- Confirm if print copies are required, and if so where they are to be delivered
- Send the final print-ready PDF to the print supplier, if print copies are required
- If HH Global is not being used to supply print copies, and print copies are required by Parliament, agree a print copy or print PDF delivery date with HH Global and obtain HH Global’s delivery instructions. Failure to make provision to for parliamentary print copies lies with the laying organisation, not the supplier
- HM Treasury lays central departments’ annual reports and accounts. Departments should liaise with HM Treasury to ensure that copies of the report and accounts have reached the Treasury in time to meet the planned laying date
- Executive agencies and other arms-length bodies should liaise with HM Treasury, or their parliamentary unit or that of their parent department, to ensure the report is laid in Parliament
- Once laying is confirmed and if an organisation is listed on GOV.UK, its annual report and accounts must be published at https://www.gov.uk/official-documents in line with GOV.UK guidance
- There should not be a long delay between laying and publication, otherwise complaints may result
- Organisations without GOV.UK publishing rights should organise GOV.UK publication through their parent department’s digital team
- Publish the report’s accessible web and print-ready PDFs on GOV.UK at www.gov.uk/official-documents. The report can also be published in html following GOV.UK guidance
- The formats published online must be exactly the same as the version provided to Parliament. Versions published in html should retain parliamentary provenance details from the report’s title and copyright pages following GOV.UK guidance.
*National Audit Office information sources
- Checklists which document all of the matters that should be addressed, where appropriate, in a set of annual reports and accounts. You or your colleagues should look at these checklists in advance to ensure that the timetables for laying accounts are not delayed because of omissions in the accounts
- Building Public Trust Awards good practice guidance. The awards recognise outstanding corporate reporting that builds trust and transparency. An interactive PDF illustrates a range of good practice examples across annual reports in both the public and private sector
- NAO Insights overview
HM Treasury role
HM Treasury has provided slides on producing annual reports and accounts, and its role in the process: HM Treasury annual report and accounts guidance (PDF, 0.84 MB).